Agile work

Embracing flexibility: The future of Open Work at Twilio

  • Christy-01 (1).jpg
    Christy Lake, Twilio Chief People Officer
  • Feb 24, 2021

2020 changed everything, including the ways we work. COVID-19 showed working from home—or from anywhere, for that matter—is here to stay. 

Adjust text size

Disclaimer: "This article was updated as of December 2021 to better reflect our Open Work policy."

Twilio’s 2021 State of Customer Engagement Report found 92 percent of business leaders say COVID accelerated their move to the cloud, powering more distributed ways of working. Employers with doubts about remote working effectiveness are having a change of heart, with leaders across industries championing the business benefits of a remote workforce. To stay competitive—if not afloat—many view this new way of working as a catalyst to evolve into an entirely new type of organization. 

Twilio welcomes Open Work

In response to the pandemic, Twilio's workforce went fully remote. Now, we've begun opening some of our domestic and global offices in accordance with guidelines put forth by local governments. Twilio has been entirely remote since the pandemic started, and we’ve recently begun opening some offices in the APAC region. The majority (70 percent) of Twilions (our term for Twilio employees) really like our offices, their colleagues, and the ability to collaborate and build community in person. That said, we heard from employees that they want to be able to work from the office some number of days per week, maybe just not all five. 

On the other hand, some employees don't want to be in an office at all. So, we’re embracing a hybrid work environment that will meet Twilions wherever they are. We see a generational opportunity to acquire and retain great talent, build better teams, and establish stronger customer relationships by embracing the future of work. 

To support this, Twilio is adopting a hybrid approach with a framework we're calling Open Work

At its simplest, Open Work is an evolution of where and how we work. Open Work is a testament to our belief that great things happen if we continue to bring in talented people and empower them to do their best work. This hybrid framework supports global recruitment as we seek diverse talent to serve our customers and strengthen the business. 

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, most Twilions are working remotely. Before the pandemic, 15 percent of Twilions worked at least part of the time remotely. Even when the risks of the pandemic have lessened in some regions, we forecast a significant number of Twilions will continue working remotely depending on their role, preferences, and region.

The future of work is happening right now and, based on Twilion feedback, it's all about flexibility. Companies that are able to adapt and meet the needs of top talent are the ones that are going to win in the talent market—and we will strive to be one of those companies. 

Open Work will benefit customers, employees, and candidates: 

  • Customers: Open Work is a business-driven decision. Employees comfortable in their work environment, with the flexibility to customize their schedule to best meet their customers' needs, will drive better business outcomes. 

  • Teams: What does this mean for hiring managers within the company? We're already seeing swift change. Candidates no longer must be in the commuting range of a physical office; they don't even necessarily need to be in the same time zone. This frees managers to look for the best person for the job, no matter where they live, opening new talent pools. 

  • Prospective employees: For job candidates, that means a job at Twilio is one that is not just about today. Employment with Twilio could stay with you as you progress throughout your career, supporting and accommodating all the changes that take place in your life and providing opportunities to build your way. 

We see a generational opportunity to acquire and retain great talent, build better teams, and establish stronger customer relationships by embracing the future of work.

Christy Lake, Twilio Chief People Officer

So how does open work, uh, work?

The most successful outcome of Open Work will be that Twilio sheds a traditional in-person mentality and embraces one in which each Twilion can excel, engage, and achieve from anywhere. Several pillars make up the foundation of the Open Work concept:

  • Equity: Virtual meetings are more inclusive and provide equal access to information and resources. Open Work is an important step toward furthering equitable work experiences and opportunities regardless of Twilions’ geographic location, remote work preferences, or race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, economic status, and other diverse backgrounds.
  • Trust. Focusing on deliverables and operating with more autonomy, Twilions are trusted to fashion their own optimized work-life, whether that's at home, in one of our global offices, or—depending on their role—somewhere in between.  
  • Flexibility: Not all Twilions will be 100 percent remote or always in the office. Life changes may impact someone’s working situation, requiring relocation.Open Work allows each Twilion to advance as their role or personal situation changes, and it establishes options and flexibility to meet these changing needs. 
  • Tools and technology. Open Work means our teams have the empowerment and tools to enable them to work asynchronously. Working together should be easy and seamless, no matter where someone is located or the physical distance they are from their teammates or customers. 

The four principles of Twilio Open Work

Open Work is based on principles that guide how we hire, how we maintain excellent customer relationships, and how satisfying the Twilio experience is for our team members.  

At Twilio, we work to ensure Twilions have equitable work experiences and opportunities regardless of their geographic location, remote work preferences, or race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, economic status, and other diverse backgrounds. The principles of Open Work have been shaped by the beliefs we share and that have emerged organically:

  1. Twilions can have an impact and be productive (almost) anywhere in the world. 
  2. Our working hours resemble our customers' so we can interact in real-time, foster lasting relationships, and easily 'Wear the Customer's Shoes'—one of our Twilio Magic core values. 
  3. Outcomes and demonstrated Twilio Magic drive performance and growth opportunities, not face time. 
  4. Community, connection, and belonging are foundational to every Twilion and team's experiences. 

We can't wait to see what you build — with us.

Open Work is fluid, and we expect the work environment to keep changing. Present conditions, like the pandemic, are shaping where we are going: each of us, together. And with every new Twilion who joins the company, new ideas will be added to the mix. What we foresee for Open Work today might be different in a year or two. Or it might spawn versions based on culture, or region, or customer needs. 

As we move into 2022 and beyond, we'll build on this. What's most exciting is Twilions at every level, in every region, in every role, and from every background are eager to help create new working norms and practices to keep us connected, working together effectively. One of our mantras is, "we can't wait to see what you build." This time, we can't wait to see what WE build. 

At Twilio, the best work happens when Twilions feel free to be their best self. We're committed to building a workplace that fosters inclusivity alongside productivity. And now, with Open Work, the workplace is any place and every place. 

Check out the State of Customer Engagement Report for more on how the future of work is changing. To learn more about how we’re building communications to change lives at Twilio, read our 2020 Impact ReportInterested in becoming a Twilion? Check out our current job openings.

Get the report

Get your copy of our annual State of Customer Engagement Report, out now.

Learn More
I want to see more about: 
  • Editions
  • Industry
  • Product
  • Region
  • Solution
  • Use case
Communication for good | Spring 2021
  • Communication for good | Spring 2021
  • COVID-19 and the new normal | Winter 2020
  • Digital trust | Summer 2021
  • Pre-SIGNAL special | Fall 2021
  • Retail in 2021 | Summer 2021
Let's go
Christy-01 (1).jpg

Christy Lake, Twilio Chief People Officer

Christy is Chief People Officer at Twilio where she leads the company’s global People team. She is responsible for driving the talent development and acquisition strategy, and building infrastructure to support a thriving culture of belonging, diversity and inclusion across the company. Previously, Christy was Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Box, which she joined with 20 years of experience in culture development, talent strategy and learning and development.

Singapore_Office-1055 (1).jpg

What innovation means to us

We were recently named by Fast Company as one of the best workplaces for innovators, and as a best workplace for millennials by Fortune. Here’s what having an innovative workplace means to us.

Christy Lake, Twilio Chief People Officer